Winter and summer schools

Winter and summer schools

The Winter and Summer Schools were a series of initiatives by IIT Bombay and KILA which brought students from IIT and other engineering colleges across the country to diagnose and understand the water and sanitation issues of Alappuzha. The schools featured field visits, surveys, discussions and sessions by domain experts. 

A methodology for canal rejuvenation: winter school 2017

The protocol for Winter School was done by IIT Bombay with extensive discussions and consultations with multiple stakeholders . Consultations with local youth, civil society organisations like KSSP as well as ward councillors of Alappuzha Municipality were done as  the first step of  planning for the Winter School. After this process, IIT Bombay and Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) in collaboration with the SCMS School of Engineering and Technology, Kerala conducted a Winter School from November 27 to December 4, 2017 in selected wards of Alappuzha Municipality. About 36 students engaged in  drain mapping using GIS tools, conducted water quality assessment and a household survey. 

The Winter School set out to understand means of rejuvenation of the canal system through a set of exercises involving participatory drain mapping, water quality assessment and household survey. ​The drain mapping exercise tracked the major canals and associated information in an effort to understand wastewater management in the town. The water quality of the canals was analysed to determine the aquatic health and types of pollution. Household level surveys helped in collecting information about access to water services, sanitation practices and public health. The exercise not only highlighted the data gaps in water and sanitation at local level , but it also helped in deciding the future course of the initiative. It was found that a rejuvenation of the canal system requires strict control of the inflow of solid and liquid waste into the system. However, more importantly it requires a change in the mindset of the public towards the canals, to avert the tragedy of the commons.  

On 9 December 2017, the report of Winter School 2017 was released. From the studies carried out, a need for the comprehensive understanding of the integrated solid and liquid waste management of the pilot ward, Chathanad, was realised. This would show the way towards intervention. It had also been understood that for bringing about an attitudinal change in people, some form of social engineering process would also be required to instill a feeling of ownership among the public on the canal commons. Any intervention on Alappuzha’s canal system thus had to include both technical and social components.

participatory planning of interventions: summer school 2018

A need was felt to scale-up the winter school efforts for a comprehensive understanding of water and sanitation issues in the whole of Alappuzha. Based on the protocol developed during Winter School, the civil engineering survey could be expanded to cover all of the sub-canals and the socioeconomic survey to cover a bigger sample size of households and commercial establishments.   

The Summer School-2018 was conducted from May 6 to May 25 by KILA and IIT Bombay in partnership with the Cochin University College of Engineering, Kuttanad (CUCEK). The school received voluntary support from Master in Social Work students of Assumption College, Changanassery. The school consisted of 330 students from multi-disciplinary backgrounds (Civil/Environmental Engineering, Architecture/Urban Planning, Social Sciences/Social Work) and included a civil survey of the canals, socio-economic survey of households, a bacteriological contamination survey of water samples, a willingness to pay survey to measure the residents’ willingness for improved sanitation services, and a survey on the sanitation practices of commercial establishments. The data from about 1500 households and 221 commercial/industrial establishments situated along the project area i.e. canals sheds of Vadai and Commercial canals were collected during the school. The summer school thus provided data for a situational analysis of the entire canalsheds in Alappuzha. The next step was to develop socio-technical solutions to specific problems.

One of the major achievements of Summer School-2018 is an association of a group of students to take forward the protocol and replicate it with context specific alterations.

At this stage, the need for the disaggregation of the town’s sanitation grid into the level of a ‘canal shed’ was clear to us. A total sanitation plan for the whole town could be designed as individual canalshed intervention plans.

design of socio-technical solutions: winter school 2018

A third (winter) school for eight days comprising of experts, professionals, students and practitioners from all over India was held during the month of December 2018. A survey was carried out during Winter school at one specific canal (Shadamani) to  assess the viability of solutions that came out of the earlier exercise, especially the  various technological options and for knowing about the people’s willingness to install the new systems. Thus during the Winter School, canal shed specific total sanitation plan were developed for the canals.